The lights in the flat have taken to flickering wildly for no apparent reason. Unable to work without thinking I am on a sinking ship or suffering from some kind of eye problem, I have taken to writing my latest university assignment in the cafes of the Kings Road. Even there however my mind wanders. When there is so much else to watch and think about, the role of civil society in development becomes far less interesting...
Next to me a couple pore over travel guides, planning their holiday to Canada. Where should we stay? What should we see? Well, I’m dying to see...mind my coffee! Daddy left in charge of his young daughter parks her on a chair, at a table she can barely reach up to, to spoon up her ice cream from an icey glass. Small legs in stripey tights swing miles off the ground.
A policeman in white shirt-sleeves diligently scraping the brightly coloured fliers from the phone boxes; removing the lurid calling cards of Kara, Tina, Crystale and Co. He solemnly ferries his garish handfuls to the rubbish bin. At the bin he meets a man in full morning suit, dropping a crumpled confetti packet on top of the hookers’ adverts. Metres away the rest of the wedding party pose on the steps of the Chelsea Town Hall; a constantly changing line-up before a perky photographer.
The roads stream until the traffic lights change. Sports cars dusted off and soft-top roofs are folded back to let the spring sunshine into the front seats. Drivers squint behind sunglasses through the sparkling windscreens. Summer may finally be approaching, and I hate to be stuck inside, chained to my essay. As I gather together notes, pens and laptop a vast armful of blue balloons bob past the window, emblazoned with the Conservative party logo. A few seconds afterwards five more clutched in the hand of a shop assistant hurry after the advanced party. The good burghers of Chelsea strut down the pavement like they’re on a New York or Milan catwalk; dressed up for breakfast, or coffee, or shopping for bed-linen and lampshades.
Weekends in London are just like weekdays. To everything there is a pattern, a regularity. And it is comforting to know, as I sacrifice myself and my social life to debates on the nature of social capital, that life keeps ticking on. The view outside the window keeps changing.